ISRO Test-Fires Scramjet Rocket Engine, Joins Club of US, Russia, Europe

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday test-fired successfully its first Scramjet Rocket Engine using oxygen from the atmosphere which entails huge cuts in its future space missions and pave the way for designing future space shuttles which can breathe from the air in their journey upwards.

The first experimental mission launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 6 a.m. has lofted India join the ranks of other major space giants — the US, Russia and European Space agency. On its own, ISRO described the mission as a “modest” but important milestone to design and develop advanced air breathing engines, which will power its future mission to send human missions into deeper space exploration.

Scramjet Engine has gone through five stages, viz., burn out of booster rocket stage, ignition of second stage solid rocket, functioning of Scramjet engines for 5 seconds followed by burn out of the second stage before lift off as planned.

After a flight of about 300 seconds, the vehicle touched down in the Bay of Bengal, approximately 320 km from Sriharikota and it was tracked during its flight from the ground stations at Sriharikota.

With this flight, critical technologies such as ignition of air breathing engines at supersonic speed, holding the flame at supersonic speed, air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems have been successfully demonstrated.

The Scramjet engine designed by ISRO uses Hydrogen as fuel and the Oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidiser. The test was the maiden short duration experimental test of ISRO’s Scramjet engine with a hypersonic flight at Mach 6. ISRO’s Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), which is an advanced sounding rocket, was the solid rocket booster used for the test of Scramjet engines at supersonic conditions. ATV carrying Scramjet engines weighed 3277 kg at lift-off.

ATV is a two stage spin stabilised launcher with identical solid motors (based on Rohini RH560 sounding rocket) as the first as well as the second stage (booster and sustainer). The twin Scramjet engines were mounted on the back of the second stage. Once the second stage reached the desired conditions for engine “Start-up”, necessary actions were initiated to ignite the Scramjet engines and they functioned for about 5 seconds. Today’s ATV flight operations were based on a pre-programmed sequence.

Some of the technological challenges handled by ISRO during the development of Scramjet engine include the design and development of Hypersonic engine air intake, the supersonic combustor, development of materials withstanding very high temperatures, computational tools to simulate hypersonic flow, ensuring performance and operability of the engine across a wide range of flight speeds, proper thermal management and ground testing of the engines.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO scientists for the feat. "Successful testing of Scramjet Rocket Engine is a testimony to the hardwork and excellence of our scientists. Congratulations to ISRO. We have seen time and again how our scientists and space programme has made India very proud," he said.

Pranab Mukherjee, President of India too congratulated the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for the successful conduct of Futuristic Rocket Test – Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), in a message to Dr. A.S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman of ISRO.

He said: “I extend my hearty congratulations to you and your entire team at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for the successful conduct of Futuristic Rocket Test –Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV). The launch marks an important landmark in our space programme and demonstrates, yet again, India’s capabilities in space launch technology. With this test, India has joined the select club of nations which have the technology of air breathing engines. The nation is proud of this achievement. Kindly convey my greetings to the members of your team of scientists, engineers, technologists and all others associated with this great mission. I wish all your future endeavours great success”.

[ tags ISRO scramjet, Indian Space Research Organisation,ISRO, test-fire, Scramjet Rocket Engine, cheap launches, space missions, Satish Dhawan Space Centre,Sriharikota, US, Russia and European Space agency, advanced air breathing engines, ATV, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Hypersonic engine air intake, the supersonic combustor, withstanding very high temperatures, computational tools, simulate hypersonic flow, thermal management, ground testing,a s kiran kumar, isro director, prime minister modi, president pranab mukherjee ]

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